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Without injured star QB, Lions move on to Roughriders rematch

Oct 22, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; view of a CFL game ball with a french logo on the field before the first quarter during a Canadian Football League game at Molson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

The B.C. Lions will begin life without Nathan Rourke in earnest on Friday when they host the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Vancouver.

Rourke sustained a likely season-ending Lisfranc sprain in his right foot during the fourth quarter of the Lions’ 28-10 win over Saskatchewan last Friday in Regina.

Michael O’Connor, 26, will make his first CFL start on Friday for B.C. (8-1), which leads the CFL in most offensive categories due in large part due to the play of Rourke. The 24-year-old Rourke tops the league in passing yards (3,281), touchdowns (25) and completion percentage (79.2).

O’Connor, however, intends to steer the ship as best he can despite receiving limited playing time. He has completed 9 of 12 passes for 63 yards and one interception this season, including going 5 for 5 for 36 yards last week.

“I’ve been working hard,” O’Connor said. “I’ve always said you never know when an opportunity is going to come but it’s going to come one day.

“It’s unfortunate this is how it’s happened. I feel terrible for Nate but at the same time, I’ve got to be ready to keep this thing rolling.”

Saskatchewan (5-5), in turn, is rolling downhill. The Roughriders have lost four of their last five games, including a 32-17 decision at home to B.C. on July 29 in addition to last week’s setback to the Lions.

Saskatchewan once again will start Cody Fajardo under center despite executing a quarterback change late in the first half of last week’s game. Fajardo told reporters that his confidence was shaken upon being relieved by Mason Fine.

“We made that decision right away and we’re going to do everything we can to play better around him,” Riders coach Craig Dickenson said of Fajardo, who threw for just 41 yards and was intercepted twice last week.

“We feel like we can play better across the board, so he’s going to be our starter, we’ve got great confidence in him and we’re going to do everything around him to make sure he has good games moving forward and he plays winning football.”

–Field Level Media